Get Educated in Davos

September 8, 2017

Get Educated in Davos

A congress city with a long tradition and a state-of-the-art infrastructure that perhaps no other Alpine town can match, Davos is best known as the venue of the World Economic Forum, which gathers around 3,000 leading figures from the worlds of business, politics and science every year. As such, it has all the expertise and the capacity to host association events of any kind. Words Rémi Dévé

The highest-altitude resort in Europe and the largest municipality in Switzerland in terms of surface area, Davos has since long been established as a congress, research and clinic destination. What was once only a health resort has developed into what is known today as Davos research centre. The knowledge accumulated here – primarily in the fields of natural science and medicine – has been passed on since the beginning of the 20th century.

The roots of the congress business reach back to the end of the 19th century, when famous guests and leading physi-cians from all over Europe stayed in this high-altitude health resort. The successful treatment of patients with lung disorders led doctors to exchange their specialist knowledge at conferences and training courses and share it
with colleagues at home and abroad. In 1923, Davos physicians organized the first international congress, which, five years after the end of the First World War, brought scientists from former hostile countries together again. In 1925 the Physical-Meteorological Observatory initiated a congress on bioclimatology, which was followed by further congresses of the World Meteorological Organization.

Because there was a need for a place to hold some advanced training courses in several fields of expertise, the Davos Congress Centre was built in 1969, where the World Economic Forum has been held every year since 1971. As Davos progressively developed into an internationally known congress location, the Congress Centre was extended in 1979, and again in 1989, to cope with an ever increasing number of participants. Today, Davos Congress Centre has an overall capacity of 5,000 participants. On a practical note, if, as an convention planner, you book at least 300 rooms in one of the partner hotels of Davos Congress, they will offer you the Davos Congress Centre free of charge…

Around 400 people work in research in Davos. With four internationally acclaimed research institutes in the fields of natural sciences and medicine, an Institute of Risk Management, two grammar schools and the Kirchner Museum, it is an outstanding educational and research centre for an Alpine destination. The Science City Davos Association unites the key institutions of research, education and politics under one roof, with the goal of strengthening and expanding Davos as a focal point for research, congresses and education.

As Professor Peter Matter, former President of the Association for Osteosynthesis (AO Foundation), says : « Davos is well known for its decades-long tradition of holding national and international medical congresses. As a congress resort, it is based on close ties to its five scientific research institutes and a well-equipped, competent acute hospital. The city-like character in an Alpine landscape is much appreciated by congress delegates and enables personal contact outside the Congress Centre. »

More info on Davos: T. +41 81 415 22 76 / sales@davos.ch /www.davos.ch/meetingplace and on Switzerland as a convention destination: T. +32 (0)2 345 83 57 / myriam.winnepenninckx@switzerland.com / www.MySwitzerland.com/meetings

 

 

 

 

September 4, 2017

Riviera di Rimini,
An Introduction

Rimini, the fast facts 


40 kilometres of equipped beaches

2,141 hotels

11 urban parks

20 theme and water parks

17 theatres

1 international racetrack

2 golf clubs

20 villas and historical residences

45 museums and collections

2 marinas

30 discos

16 fortresses, towers and castles

2 thermal spa centres

93 kilometres of bike paths

Easy accessible by car, by train or by plane with just one hour shuttle from the Bologna Airport, Rimini offers the perfect blend of a territory steeped in history, a wonderfully and diverse inland area, modern accommodation and entertainment facilities, simple and efficient logistics. Formed in 1994, Convention Bureau della Riviera di Rimini is the oldest one in Italy and promotes the entire province of Rimini as an event destination – no wonder they have all the necessary experience to host your conference.

The Convention Bureau manages the Palacongressi di Rimini which offers a flexible space and can host events of any size and format, from business conventions to medical-scientific symposiums, from cultural gatherings to association meetings. The Palacongressi features 39 rooms that have a total capacity of 9,000 people, a plenary hall of 4,700 seats and 11,000 sq m. for exhibition.

The local area around the Palacongressi di Rimini and the congress centres of Riccione and Bellaria are well served with spaces for all types and sizes of meetings and events. From historical villas and castles, to medieval villages; from the numerous hotels to theme parks; from beaches to trendy bars, the Riviera di Rimini provides a special atmosphere that hopefully will make for a memorable event for your guests.

CBRR work together with meeting planners, PCOs, agencies and organizers at every stage of event organization. They provide a complete and customised service, free of charge. Their brand-new brochure is available here.

Need more information? Write an email to info@riminiconvention.it or visit www.riminiconvention.it

This content is powered by Convention Bureau della Riviera di Rimini. 

August 28, 2017

“Education is an Important Part of What We Do”

Boardroom talked with Kai Troll, Chairman Best Buddies Europe, MiddleEast & Africa and Head of Development at International Sport and Cultural Association, about why he thinks education platforms and knowledge sharing are probably one of the primary reasons for individuals  to become members of an association.

From the member perspective: Is Education the very raison d’être of associations?

Indeed, often one could wonder why an association is in business and I know of a good number of associations who seem to have forgotten why they exist in the first place, for different reasons: they have grown too big too fast; they are busy with all sorts of activities, keep developing new ones and perhaps have lost focus; they lack a proper planning process, don’t have much of a plan where the organization should be heading towards or maybe the board feel that things are ‘good enough’ and keep doing things the way they have been doing them forever.

I believe that about ten to fifteen percent of association existing today won’t be around in ten to fifteen years time because they lost purpose. At the same time, we will see plenty of new associations, on national, regional and international level will be established.

Whether industry or non-industry funded association, education is always an important part of what we do. Ideally, an association has created its stakeholder map and fully understands who the stakeholders are that should be educated in order to maximize outreach and impact. Often, associations must become better in communicating what ‘problem’ they and their members actually try so solve. Therefore, I often wonder if association stakeholders at large know and understand who and why associations do educate. That could mean looking back at the core purpose of the association, or making adjustments. The key question an organization has to ask itself is: what impact do we have and what change do we create and make as an association?

 

I hope most association leaders and their board are able to answer this question. If not, there is some homework to do

 

Is education the main added value to association members?

As we all know, and considering the broad variety and types of associations, there are a number and different motives why members join an association. In my mind mostly because of the networking opportunities, connecting with people, industry colleagues and peers. Besides staying informed and current on global topics, policy issues and being ‘part of something bigger’, education platforms and knowledge sharing are probably the other most relevant reasons to become members of an international, European – or other regional association.

There is one important reason that member often don’t bother or don’t think of too much, hence don’t take the opportunity to benefit from this one relevant aspect. And that is ‘engagement’. From my observation, the majority members tend to be rather inactive and passive members, information receivers rather than taking a lead in a project, in a working group or an initiative that could help make a difference. A pro-active behavior by some will motivate other to get more involved. As a result, the association benefits overall.

One interesting question to ask these days is what makes one being a ‘member’ of an association or a network? What’s the definition of a ‘member’ for an organization? What is indeed the value added for an organization by becoming a member? I believe that we will see a lot of change in how organizations define ‘membership’ in the next years to come. There will be much more diversification of ‘members’ and differentiation to the word ‘membership’ and what that actually mean to organizations. In fact, this process has started already for many leading and innovative associations.

From an association management perspective:  How  crucial is it for associations to encourage and directly support the continuing education of their employees in the various disciplines required to manage an association?

In general, associations regardless what geographical reach or size aren’t very good at providing further education, in an academical and non-academical sense, to their staff. This is the case for any staff levels but also for board members. Often, staff members are interested in receiving further formal and non-formal education but it is not provided because their managers don’t support it for reasons of time, budget or find that there is no real need, especially if the staff is more junior, lower or middle management. Board members who should generally receive board training don’t take advantage of becoming more trained, because they often feel that they are already highly knowledgeable and others believe they know it all already anyway.

But for an association to understand staff’s interests and needs will help to keep people motivated. And there is a lot of training and education in association management out there that leaders can choose from. One issue but also key question is: ‘where do I go to get the best possible training and education that is suitable and relevant for me to an affordable price for my association?’

In most cases, people look for training and education opportunities related to their current responsibility and works in current association or of that of association in general. Association, event or project management in specific is one, but I wouldn’t necessarily restrict it to ‘association’ related management but really look at it as ‘business management’. Personally, I would very much recommend that people join non-industry related training or education courses not necessarily related to the association or meeting industry. That should help to bring fresh thinking into the work place.

According to you, what are the best ways to keep up-to-date with developments in association management?

One could easily get attracted and caught up in a number of training and educational events around the globe every year. I would recommend association leaders to attend 2-3 focused events annually that will add real value to them and eventually their associations.

In order to remain meaningful and with purpose, associations must continuously evolve and probably need to operate and be run with much more of a business mind. Since members, other stakeholders and partners start to understand that more and more, I assume that we will see much more rotation and leadership change within the association world in the years to come than ever before. There is a trend that visionary and innovative boards hire (new) leadership with general business background versus people coming from within the association business. This has pros and conts. The point being, that it is easier for an experienced business leader to learn and understand a specifics of an industry sector rather than association representatives without business training and background to gain better business expertise and more skilled in that area.

In any case, whilst associations educate stakeholders, we must put more focus and efforts in educating everyone, including ourselves the association staff and executives, our members and other internal and external stakeholders to ensure positive impact and to remain relevant.

 

August 20, 2017

AIPC Annual Conference – Lessons from a City Reinventing Itself

 

Taking part in a congress whose delegates are actually the very people you deal with when you associations organise yours is always eye-opening. And when that congress takes place in a destination that’s reinventing itself –  and whose congress centre is part of that reinvention – you clearly understand how associations, venues and destinations can better work together to make the most of a conference.

Words Rémi Dévé

AIPC, the international association of congress centres, represents a global network of over 185 centres in 59 countries with the active involvement of more than 900 management-level professionals worldwide. It encourages excellence in convention centre management, based on the diverse experience and expertise of its international representation. To do so, it is engaging in a variety of educational, research, networking and standards programs. Its Annual Congress is part of those efforts to bring excellence in all areas of centre management: 2017 saw more than 150 delegates converge to Sydney and its international convention centre to tackle the very broad theme of Transformation!

Competition and adaptation are the two top challenges facing centres worldwide today, and for most venues that means applying new models and refreshing established ones in a transformation process that involves both the destination and the centre itself. At the same time, this must be linked to the broader strategies and approaches of the city and country in which centres operate, in order to ensure consistency with overall destination priorities.

In this regard, it made sense for the AIPC Annual Congress to kickstart with a session on how cities that want to play a role on the world scene – like Sydney does – must have all their stakeholders, including convention centres, work together to achieve the same unified vision and achieve growth. This way, association events can be regarded as partaking of this growth. Sydney, a recognized destination, indeed chose to reconfigure itself based on a new vision for its economic future, based on a range of perspectives that re-imagined the role of the new convention centre in the context of economic sector advancement, talent attraction and acquisition, academic leadership and an image consistent with all these goals.

As Michael Rose, Chairman of the Committee for Sydney, an independent think tank and champion for the whole of the city, pointed out: « Convention centres are a platform for success in the business events economy, has to play a role of a facilitator, and sometimes even of an accelerator, of knowledge and is hence a crucial partner in the way a city thinks about itself. »

Of course, I was particularly interested in a session called ‘Client Perspective’. After all, how associations and congress venues can work better together? What’s the overall experience of clients when it comes to convention centres around the world? Jan Tonkin, Managing Director of the Conference Company, which, among other things, offer convention services to associations, and Sven Bossu, Head of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), who organises Sibos, the only global conference on financial services out there, shared their perspectives on change and evolution in the industry.

Jan Tonkin explained how key client groups are re-shaping event formats, centre expectations and traditional business practices. She summarised her experience this way: « Clients – including associations – and centres alike must demonstrate their open-mindedness, flexibility and forward-thinkingness. The trend is to experiment with meeting environments, designing ‘nooks and crannies’ possibilities or better interactive learning experiences. Security concerns are also dramatically on the rise, and collaborative planning in the matter is absolutely key. »

Sven Bossu explained: « Our last conference, which took place in Geneva, was completely reshaped. After having around 13 forums the previous year, we restructured and reformed the programme into four streams. Sibos is all about financial compliance, all about anti-money laundering, and all about cybersecurity, amongst other things. The goal is to bring people together and make them think about how to solve common challenges and that is what we’ve always tried to do with an event like ours. If convention centres understand what we want to achieve and they can be part of it, then it’s win-win situation. »

The rest of this article will be featured in the September edition of Boardroom, available soon.

August 14, 2017

Centre and Association Partnerships in Washington

Both centres and association organizers have a shared stake in a successful outcome for any given event since whatever satisfies attendees is the best guarantee for future participation. Working together – using a centre’s unique knowledge of what works best in their facilities combined with the organizers in-depth understanding of what their delegates most want and need – is the best way to achieve this, but requires a commitment by both parties to cooperation and keeping an open mind to a range of possibilities.

Words Greg O’Dell, President and CEO, Walter E. Washington Convention Center and Events DC

I can best illustrate this via a specific example drawn from our own experiences at Events DC, which hosts hundreds of events annually in its venues, including the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Over the years, the Center has established itself as a strong partner and resource for associations looking to increase attendance and enhance the overall event experience in Washington, DC – all while building innovative revenue opportunities.

Enhancing the Attendee Experience in DC

The Center has partnered with the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) since 2012. RAMW uses our annual investment to enhance its local marketing spending and to develop select national promotions showcasing District restaurants and the District’s growing culinary experiences to national media, entrepreneurs and event organizers.

RAMW creates customized marketing campaigns for citywide and major Center events and promotes these events to its member restaurants, encouraging them to offer event-related discounts, incentive and welcoming opportunities. This gives event patrons a wider selection of restaurant options. This is a member benefit for RAMW members, driving thousands of new patrons looking for memorable dining experiences to restaurants throughout the city each week. The promotions particularly benefit newer, smaller restaurants with limited promotional budgets.

RAMW also provides the Center with enhanced client hospitality opportunities during quarterly Chef’s Table food showcase events.

The Center hosts RAMW’s annual awards gala to showcase our venue and food offerings to the restaurant community; Events DC is designated as the gala’s primary sponsor.

RAMW’s promotion of the District as a significant culinary destination creates a unique value proposition for leisure, business and convention travelers, as well as increasing the city’s appeal to tour operators, business developers and event organizers. It also significantly expands its member restaurants’ customer base at no additional marketing cost to its members through advance alerts of the convention business opportunities, creating a significant and valuable member benefit.

Read the rest of the article in the third issue of Boardroom available here.

August 10, 2017

The ‘Absorp­­­­tive Capacity’ Theory

Professor Rhodri Thomas of Leeds Beckett University recently led a roundtable for the Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO) on the theory of absorptive capacity. Heather Lishman, Association Director of ABPCO explains some of the key outcomes below.

The term ‘absorptive capacity’ is used to identify an organisation’s ability to assimilate, transform, and apply valuable external knowledge. The theory has steadily grown in popularity and the term has been used widely at the organisational level to analyse innovation processes and the effect of organisational learning on the creation of sustainable competitive advantage. Absorptive capacity goes far beyond knowing the obvious things about the micro climate in which a company operates. Instead it takes a macro look at a business and its competitive position. It appreciates all the factors that can affect change both for better or worse and allows an organisation to truly understand its market position.

An organisation with high absorptive capacity is one with an outward-looking business strategy where staff, and especially managers, are encouraged to be ‘boundary spanners’ i.e. they gather knowledge from many different types of sources and not just the obvious. It has a pulse on what is happening in the market-place, and is able to utilise this broader insight to keep ahead of the competition. Ultimately, it puts a business on the front-foot and equips them with the knowledge that will help them to understand their place in the competitive landscape, and to see opportunities in the political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal factors that affect their business environment.

For professional conference organisers and associations, it is imperative that they keep bang up to date with innovations and engagement strategies. Not only will they be able to utilise this knowledge within their own organisations, but they can apply it when they are organising conferences. It is vital in the world of meetings that the event attendees acquire relevant knowledge and take this learning back to utilise effectively within their own environments, thus ensuring that they generate a return on investment for their time spent at meetings.

Research has shown that the ability to establish relevant networks and gather and use information is closely tied with an organisation’s ability to innovate and to remain competitive. The more familiar you are with your network, the more trust you will have and the more useful your data will be. Through shared information and trust, individuals stay ahead of the curve rather than simply reacting, which when combined with a strong sense and understanding of absorptive capacity creates a truly innovative way of thinking.

Staying up to date is critical for long-term survival as it can reinforce, complement or refocus the knowledge base. As professional leaders in their field, all professional conference organisers have an active role to play in bridging connections between acquired knowledge and generating innovation and competitive advantage – absorptive capacity is just one of many tools to help achieve this.

The Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO) is a dedicated industry association representing professional conference organisers. Its mission is to develop and enhance the status of conference and event organisers and increase the recognition given to its members. www.abpco.org / hello@abpco.org

July 12, 2017

Academy for Eating Disorders – All About the Members

Elissa Matulis Myers, Executive Director of the Academy for Eating Disorders, took contact with us when she got the second issue of Boardroom. With all the nice things she had to say about the content and the look of the magazine, which we will humbly not express here, we could not but ask her how she relates to the topics we deal with in Boardroom. Elissa tells Boardroom Chief Editor Rémi Dévé how the Academy operates and what her life as an association executive is like.

How did the Academy come about?

The Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) began in 1993 with a meeting organized by Craig Johnson, PhD, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Thirty-three clinicians and researchers met to discuss concerns about the deleterious effects of managed care and other insurance practices on providing quality treatment for patients with eating disorders.

This group saw the need for an organization of eating disorders professionals that embodied excellence in education, treatment and research that could advocate for patients with eating disorders, provide professional training and development and, in general, represent the field of eating disorders. The AED was formed to meet these goals and today, the AED includes over 1,600 professionals – physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, and academic researchers from 42 countries around the world.

Our vision is truly global access to knowledge, research and best treatment practice for those suffering from eating disorders. Our mission is to raise awareness of this serious disease, and to facilitate the sharing of empirically based experience and research on how to diagnose and treat eating disorders. A major focus of our work remains to provide platforms for the exchange of scientific information between members, but over the years we have recognized the need to share that insight and knowledge with all front line health professionals – nutritionists, dieticians, obstetricians, school nurses, and more!

It’s an academy – any special meaning to that?

By definition, an academy is “a society or institution of distinguished scholars, artists, or scientists, that aims to promote and maintain standards in its particular field.” That describes AED perfectly. There are quite a few associations around the world that represent local groups of ED professionals; patients; patient’s families; related disciplines. AED uniquely stands as the global home of the distinguished scholars and practitioners in this field.

Can you tell us about the events you organize?

We have an annual conference, the International Conference on Eating Disorders. This year – our 24th anniversary  – we meet in Prague from June 7-10 for an intensive week of meetings, 73 workshops, and seminars and poster presentations, a major keynote address, and four general plenary sessions. We began last year to do simultaneous translation throughout the conference, and are exploring ways to create satellite conferences around the content offered.

The AED headquarters staff does most the management of the meeting – from promotion, staging and registration to on-site management. But when we are in a city – like Prague – where there isn’t a lot of local expertise on the staff, we hire a local PCO to help us offer the delegates the best that the city has to offer in between the hard work of the educational programming. For example, on the final night we are hosting our closing event at St. Agnes Convent, the oldest Gothic building in Bohemia. That exciting opportunity was suggested by our PCO.

The full interview of Elissa can be read in the third issue of Boardroom to be downloaded here.

July 5, 2017

Creative Membership and Sponsorship Structures

Associations are changing.  Traditional models formerly used to grow membership in associations have become obsolete. Attracting professionals to become a member means more than just having them fill out forms, pay an annual membership fee and receive a monthly journal.

Words Patrizia Semprebene Buongiorno, AIM Group International

 Transformation in the world today is coming from all directions, we are looking at disruption in many sectors, from the effects of the sharing economy to the far-reaching changes in technologies. No business or organisation will be exempt. In this fast and ever changing environment, associations will need to redefine “membership” if they want to be competitive and shift from a closed membership model to an open professional community.

More and more we see associations making an effort to be more relevant to their members. The value of associations is today defined more by the stakeholder than by the organisation. This is the reason associations are now offering “levels” of membership, a kind of à la carte option that serves different needs varying from full service to being able to pick and choose those products/services they need. The menu list is long and includes congress participation, traditional training, certification, participation at special members’ interest groups, digital membership, on-line education, and more. This catalogue of options allows each member to play their role within the association according to time, money, interests and professional age. The golden rule of any association is to understand what your members need and how to meet those needs.

Some may be interested in becoming directly involved in governance while others will pick and choose their activities. Yes, the core of the association remains those all-important full voting members, who pay for the full package of services and contribute to strategies and leadership. While the others may choose to benefit from selected services and programmes offered, they are no less a member and feel part of the community. This model summarises members’ behaviour in a phrase, “levels of engagement”. Associations who have adopted new membership structures say they did it not only from necessity but to make them more relevant and valuable. This process is not implemented over night. It takes time but by offering new options they provide flexibility and stay competitive in an increasingly tight market.

The same approach must be taken with association sponsors and corporate partners by offering customised corporate services aligned with the company’s needs. Sponsorships can introduce new audiences to your organisation, particularly if you choose your sponsorship partners carefully. While traditional packages have value, there are ways to creatively add value. And if we think of the opportunities of the sharing economy and technology, changes mean more opportunities for new types of sponsors.

Read the rest of this article in the latest issue of Boardroom – you can download it here.

June 27, 2017

Korea and Associations: A Love Story ?

Korea now ranks in the #1 spot worldwide for global congresses hosted the previous year, according to the most recent International Meetings Statistics Report released by the Union of International Associations (UIA), reflecting the country’s strong growth. Boardroom asked Mr. Kapsoo Kim, Executive Director of the Korea MICE Bureau at Korea Tourism Organization, to explain what makes Korea such a great association destination.

Can you explain how Korea caters to international associations?

In Korea, there is a dedicated team of professionals, including local convention bureaus, convention centres, and service providers to help organize and execute business events in the country. We, Korea MICE Bureau, act as a liason between these professionals and international associations. In addition, we work closely with these international associations’ local counterpart or in the absence of which, we link them to universities and other local associations who are experts of their given field. This way, we are able to host international meetings in Korea, open an entire new knowledge pool, and also provide these associations an excellent support program – be it marketing, financial support, etc.

(the complete details of the Korea Convention Support Program can be found here.)

Can you talk about the knowledge clusters, the expertise there is in Korea and that associations can relate to?

Regional attractions add to the colorful spectrum of Korea’s MICE destinations. While Seoul, the capital city of Korea, hosts diverse international conventions, other major regions has its own cultural/touristic charm and specialized industry, making it even more appealing together with its beautiful convention centers equipped with modern facilities. This way, organizers can choose the destination that best suits their group’s needs and preferences.

In terms of MICE regions and specialized industries, among many others, I can mention Incheon and water management, Daegu and textile and water industries, self-driving cars and IoT-based wellness, Busan and offshore plants, film, and marine tourism. Lesser known but deserving destinations include Gyeonggi and IT and public safety, Gangwon and bioenergy, smart healthcare and tourism and Daejeon and science & technology, Asian wine, advanced sensors and biopharming.

(A list of local convention bureaus in Korean can be found here.)

How do you see the future of Korea as a business events destination?

Korea ranks 1st in the recent UIA International Meetings Statistics produced this June. On the other hand, Korea ranked 13th place on the latest ICCA rankings; however, Korea has exceptionally exceeded the other top 10 countries in terms of the number of international delegates where it ranked 9th with approximately 160,000+ international meeting delegates from 267 meetings.

Just by looking at these numbers, we are confident at the positive growth of the Korea as a MICE destination. Moreover, with Samsung, Hyundai, and LG becoming a household name – Korea is gaining more attention from the science and technology industry. Their technological breakthroughs highlight Korea’s great pool of industry innovators and leaders who are very much willing to address the international community through congress and scientific convention in the country. They are not only great source of innovation but are also great source of network.

In addition, the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games is also contributing to the vast infrastructure development in the country, creating more accommodation options, venues, and impressive transportation network, including the speed train which reduces the 5-hour travel time from Seoul to Gangwon province to 2.5 hours!

June 21, 2017

Association Salary Survey – A Report

Operating in Brussels for more than 10 years placing many candidates in public affairs, communication and association leadership positions, Ellwood Atfield has launched a new 28-page report on remuneration within European associations. Through regular contacts with clients and candidates they have amassed considerable data on compensation packages in Brussels, across sectors and seniority levels. The core of this salary report is based on an in-depth survey we finalized in 2017 of over 200 senior association secretariat staff.

Words Mark Dober, Senior Director, Ellwood Atfield

EU-focused associations are big business. According to the Federation of European and International Associations (FAIB) there are 2,265 associations based in and around Brussels, which have a total estimated annual income of €2.9 billion, and employ 13,400 people. These include professional associations representing specific professions; important Non-Governmental Organisations; and some 1,600 European trade associations representing business sectors.

The key finding of our previous remuneration analysis was that salaries in Brussels vary enormously. Again we found this to be the case with associations, across all levels of seniority. There are a number of new elements presented here, including job satisfaction. Notably, according to our 2017 study of senior staff in Brussels-based European associations, almost three-quarters reported being happy or very happy in their jobs. There are many reasons and interesting personal examples behind this data. In our one-to-one interviews we do find tremendous satisfaction amongst association leaders which is often explained by a strong sense of freedom to operate, and long term thinking, especially compared to corporate environments.

Overall European association salaries are considerably higher than those found in the general Belgian economy, reflecting the premium paid for European affairs positions, which attract high calibre staff from around the European Union. Although association staff are relatively well paid they are also highly taxed; data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows that Belgium has the highest income taxes in the developed world. Belgian taxation partly explains why associations do not tend to have a strong bonus culture. According to our research almost half of secretariat staff receive no bonus whatsoever, and only about 15% receive more than a 10% annual bonus. However, there are a number of perks and benefits available to association staff in Belgium, which are less common elsewhere. For instance, cars In Belgium with the free use of fuel are fairly common for senior staff due to their relatively favourable tax treatment.

While some Brussels Director General (DG) salaries may seem high, they are not the highest in the world. On a recent visit to meet our Washington DC headhunter associates at Lochlin Partners we discovered that the average DG/CEO of a US trade association earns in excess of US $650,000. Indeed, the US Chamber of Commerce CEO earns more than US $6 million in base salary and bonus per year. DGs can also earn very high salaries in other European jurisdictions where we operate especially when running international associations in Geneva. In the UK, Ellwood Atfield recently partnered with the Trade Association Forum to survey salaries from 102 trade associations that together employ 1,530 staff. According to the research UK DGs typically earn £73,000 to £124,000 with a number earning up to £332,000 per annum excluding bonus. The detailed report is available on request.

 Association Leaders

Whether salaried or independent the DG of a European association statistically speaking on average earns €144,550 income per year. Around one-quarter of DGs are employed as independent contractors, with the rest operating as salaried employees of the association.

Although around half of independent DGs earn €120,000 up to €210,000, over 40% of Independent DGs we surveyed earn €210,000 – €350,000 per annum, with a fortunate few earning more than €350,000. Of the salaried employee DGs, just over a quarter earn less than €100,000, almost 40% earn €100,000 – €160,000, and just over 30% earn €160,000 to €300,000 with only a very few earning higher amounts. Salaried DGs enjoy the highest amounts of benefits with the majority having meal vouchers, group pension plans, smartphones, private healthcare, car leases and petrol cards.

According to our research, the majority of heads of policy or public affairs in trade associations are highly experienced, with almost 70% having between 10 and 20 years’ work experience since leaving university. Around 85% are salaried employees and 15% are self-employed. Almost two-thirds of Heads of Policy earn under €100,000, while only around one-fifth earn €120,000 to €200,000, with a fortunate few earning higher amounts normally as independents.

According to our research, 85% of policy officers in trade associations have less than 10 years’ work experience, and nearly all are salaried employees. The vast majority of policy officers or public affairs managers earn less than €80,000 per annum. The average salary for this category is around €45,000 with around 40% earning less than €40,000 per annum.

Communication roles

Interestingly, around two-thirds of heads of communications are women, and the majority are highly experienced with over 15 years’ of work experience. Around 70% earn less than €100,000 as a gross salary, and only 20% earn more than €120,000.

Communication managers are less experienced, with around three quarters having less than 14 years’ of experience. Salaries are much lower, with the vast majority earning less than €70,000 per annum. The overall average salary for communications managers is around €55,000.

In our experience, money is only one part of overall job satisfaction, it is also about having positive colleagues and bosses, work/life balance, job autonomy, career development opportunities, job security, and possibly even a higher purpose to what you do. European association jobs typically tick many of these boxes.

This report is available for free download here.